In pictures: Ash Wednesday disrupted

Pope Francis celebrated Ash Wednesday in St. Peter’s Basilica, reminding faithful the Lenten period leading to Easter celebrations is a journey and “an exodus from slavery to freedom.”

“Lent is a journey of return to God,” the pope said during his homily on Feb. 17, to the socially distanced faithful attending the Mass.

“Right now, however, God is speaking to our hearts,” he added. “In this life, we will always have things to do and excuses to offer, but right now, brothers and sisters, right now is the time to return to God.”

“It is hard to leave Egypt behind,” Francis said. “So it is with us: Our journey back to God is blocked by our unhealthy attachments, held back by the seductive snares of our sins, by the false security of money and appearances, by the paralysis of our discontents. To embark on this journey, we have to unmask these illusions.”

Ashes ceremonies disrupted

While the Pope’s message is familiar, the Ashes ceremonies have been disrupted around the globe with the coronavirus pandemic forcing changes to both the celebration of Ash Wednesday and the distribution of ashes.

Customarily, the minister marks the forehead of each participant’s forehead with black ashes, in the shape of a cross.

In order to avoid close contact and avoid the spread of the virus, the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments published a note saying the ashes should be sprinkled on the head.

It seems some may not have “received the memo”; continuing to physically apply the Ashes. Others used a range of implements and there were even some DIY solutions in evidence.

Ash Wednesday is an ecumenical Christian celebration; the Vatican’s “note” does not apply everywhere.

Here a snapshot from around the world on a disrupted Ash Wednesday.

As more countries celebrate Ash Wednesday, pictures of these countries will become available on the Internet.

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